Food culture is very interesting.  When I arrived here 15 years ago, I was so upset in a grocery store because I couldn’t find chicken thigh with skin without bone.  In Japan, chicken thigh without bone has  always skin.  If not, how could we make Japanese style fried chicken, Ka-ra-a-ge!!!  or OYAKO DON!!  ( I haven’t introduce this easy and delicious rice bowl yet!  I have to do that sometime soon!)

It has been 15 years. Still I can’t find chicken thigh without bone with skin, but I knew now that’s the way here, so I can accept that.   I get accustomed to making ka-ra-a-ge with chicken thigh without skin.  A little compromise.



I don’t know why, but we Japanese love skin.  If you have a chance to go to Japan, please try chicken skin Yakitori (chicken skewers).  That is my favorite Yakitori.  I love fish skin as well, especially salmon skin.  Every time I give dried cod or salmon skin to my furry kids, I envy them.

Another thing I didn’t know the reason was about pork bellies.  Why don’t they have thick pork belly in grocery stores?  Very recently I finally found them sold in Wholefoods.

Japanese like FAT (you know the famous KOBE BEEF with marble of FAT!) , so we often use sliced pork belly (not bacon) in our dish.  They are tasty , easy to use, and cook fast!

I go to Asian grocery store a few times in a month.  The last time I went there, I purchased blocks of  pork bellies.  I didn’t have any specific menu I wanted to cook, but I thought I shouldn’t miss this good opportunity for me to get them.


Now I have some blocks of pork bellies in my hand.

What should I cook?

When I was a kid, I didn’t like meat as much as others, but I loved my mom’s KAKUNI (slow cooked pork belly).  I know that is delicious, but I wanted to try something new.



Today I will introduce BUTA (pork) MESHI (rice )!!

We ladies shouldn’t use this word, MESHI.  The word sounds very mannish, but that’s why when I use this word for this dish, that sounds DELICIOUS.

Here are today’s ingredients for BUTA MESHI.

  • 2 pork bellies ( about 1 pound each)
  • green part of Asian green onion (thick green onion)  (if you don’t have them, use regular green onion’s top parts)
  • 3 or 4 slices of ginger root
  • 1 tablespoon of white rice
  • 1 tablespoon of shiokoji (if you don’t have it, use just 1 teaspoon of salt. Detailed in ka ra a ge article here)
  • 5-6 tablespoons of brown sugar
  • 4 table spoons of soy sauce
  • 5 table spoons of mirin
  • black pepper, cilantro (optional)

Then let’s cooking!

Rub pork bellies with shiokoji (or salt) and leave them about 10 minutes.


Put the pork in the pot, and then,,,


add white rice and green parts of green onions on top.

Why do we put white rice?  It helps the meat get juicy and soft!

By the way, we use white rice when we cook DAIKON radish.  That is because not only rice takes harshness of daikon radish but also it whitens daikon.

Return to the pork,,,




add ginger slices and enough water which covers pork, and heat until it boils.  Skim off the scum, and put the lid on and turn the heat in low.

Check sometimes for skimming off the scum, and cook for about 1 1/2 hours or until pork gets soft.

Remove from heat, and leave it until it get cold enough.

Discard the green onions and ginger.  Sieve the soup so that you could remove rice.  Then put this in the fridge.  Sadly my fridge is not big enough, so ,,,,


I keep them in the container.  When you keep it in the fridge, put plastic wrap on the surface of the soup.  Because,,,,




I forgot to take the moment of this exciting event, so I used the photo I took the other time (not BUTA MESHI).

Look!  I felt so good when I saw this fat!  This helps me not feel guilty that much!

You could use the leftover soup for another use, like soup for Ramen.

This time I only used,,




By the way, you could keep this meat in the fridge for 3-4 days if you wrap them tightly with plastic wrap.

Now we make sauce.  Put brown sugar, soy sauce and mirin in a small pot, and melt the sugar.  set aside.

Return to the meat, cut the meat in half crosswise, and then cut it about by half-inch lengthwise.


Like this.



Sorry, this is a little thicker than half-inch, but my husband will be glad.

Heat a pan (preferably cast iron skillet) with no oil, and ,,,



saute them until they get browned.



If you see lots of oil, just wipe it with paper towel.



Looks nice already.  Then,,



add prepared sauce and saute a little more.  Since this sauce has lots of sweetness, be careful not to burn too much.



OH MY GOD!   Looks good and smell good!


Since this pork was cooked until it got fork tender, they easily fell apart.

Prepare rice and put the pork on the rice carefully.

Pour extra sauce if you like.

I was about to serve this pork with Japanese rice (sweet  and sticky), but I changed my mind.  I decided to serve with Jasmine rice instead with cilantro. You could grind black pepper on top if you like.



I though this was too much for one meal, but my husband finished them all!!

He said,

This is so tender.  So delicious.  Even though they are pork bellies, they are light! 

Once you prepared cooked pork, you can flavor the pork with any flavor.  You could go to Vietnamese flavor using fish sauce and red hot chili or you could go to American flavor using BBQ sauce!  You could make sandwich with them, too!

I hope you enjoy them!




How to plate Japanese food


This pork dish was really a hit.  I cooked two hours, and then I sautéed them with sweet sauce.  My husband loved it.  However something is wrong in this photo above.  Can you see it?

A few days ago I got e-mail from my Japanese male friend.  He was saying that he couldn’t stand seeing that photo.  He said,

Did you forget Japanese spirits?  Do you really like cooking?  You love cooking, but don’t mind a proper plating?

I could feel how upset he was.   We are good friends from university, so he didn’t mean he offended me.  He always teaches me things I don’t know.  I like it.

I was thinking for a while, looking at this photo.  He was mentioning something about plates.  He said it was opposite.  The plate is white, so there is no pattern or a figure.  How could it be opposite then?



He meant I put pork opposite.



taken at one of Japanese restaurants I have been 

As you can see in the photo above , we should put any slices (fish or meat or anything!) as HIDARI OMOTE, left side up to pick up easily with chopsticks (for right-handed).  We also traditionally believe HIDARI (left) is good.



borrowed from MARUKOME.co.jp

For example, we plate a whole fish a head left. Especially for a festive occasion, we definitely have to put head left.

That is why my plating was wrong.  More over I could put garnish at wrong corner.  As for garnish, I had to put it on the right corner.

Japanese food is famous for beautiful plating, and it has a rule like cutlery setting in French.

For example, miso soup and rice should be set in front of the dishes, miso soup at the right and rice at the left.  This is very basic.



Also we should plate foods by  odd numbers.   We think odds numbers are good (Yang-as in Yin/Yang).

Each food culture is so unique.  What is thought to be good for one culture can be unacceptable in other culture.  Think about slurping Ramen!



There are still tons of rules for Japanese food, and I will write about them sometimes in future posts.

By the way the pork in the first photo and the photo above are so good, so I will write about them next!

I was so glad that I put pork and snap peas in odd numbers……

Good job, me!

Eternal Theme-how to cook easy-peeling eggs


I often use a boiled egg for my husband’s OBENTO unintentionally.  When I have still some space in the box and don’t have anything I could put,  I reach  a carton box of eggs in the fridge and take one egg and boil it.  Last resort.

How to cook eggs perfectly for easy-peeling is often being asked in cooking magazines, and , like many people, I have tried various ways, seeking the BEST way.

Here is my way.   I put eggs in a pot with water, and start boiling it.  After it boils fully, I turn off the heat and put a lid on.  Wait 8-10 minutes.  Then save eggs from the water and put them in the cold water.   This is the way I decided to do ten years ago.

When I went back to Japan last year, I found an interesting tool in the grocery store.



The product name is TSU RU RI N, which is the sound we use when something is slippery or smooth.  For example, you could use it  for the slippery floor or  you could use it for beautiful smooth skin. Oh, that makes me remind that we express a beautiful skin as egg-like-skin!  Do you have the same expression here?

Returning to the topic, how to peel eggs perfect is still my forever theme, even though I have my  way.  So I purchased this product.



This is a simple tool.  It has a hidden sting underneath.  I put an egg on this product and push it under.



Then the sting makes a tiny hole on the egg-shell.  That tiny hole helps making space between shell and inner membrane.  If you are interested in this product, go and get  it in Japan.  Kidding.  You don’t need to go to Japan.  Just simply use a pin.



It works well, but sometimes it fails. Very close, but Still not perfect for me.

Then I decided to do a new method.  I am not going to boil eggs this time.  I will steam them!



I used to cook white rice in Le Creuset, but recently I got a new pot, DONABE.   Donabe is a story type of clay cookware from Japan.  This pot has a long history, but recently people rediscover its wonderful utility.  One  day  my lovely friends gave me  a recipe book of Donabe witten by Naoko Takei Moore and Kyle Connaughton.  That book fascinated me a lot!  I just enjoyed seeing all the beautiful photos and interesting recipes!  I thought Donabe is only for a hot-pot, but NOT!  As soon as I found out various usage of  Donabe, I asked my husband to get one for me.  Since he could get benefits from that, he gladly ordered it for me!  Now I switched from Le Cruiset to DONABE for rice cooking.



This pot has an inner lid for keeping contents from boiling over and providing extra heat retention.    On the inner lid, we could put eggs just taken from fridge.



Make sure not cover the holes of the lid.  Then just cook rice.  As rice is being cooked, eggs are also being cooked.



Smell so good!

It cooks rice always perfect!

How about the EGGS?

I thought they might have some cracks on the shell, but they didn’t.  Right after steaming time for the rice, I saved the eggs and put them in  cold water.  After a while, I peeled them.


This is the best TSU RU RI N!

The egg was hard-boiled(hard-steamed?), but it was so easy to peel.  This can end my challenge to seek the best way to cook eggs.


Then a few days later,,,,




Oops,,,I did it again.

I reached the carton box again.  However I didn’t put an egg in the water.  I put the egg on the inner lid.

My husband must enjoy this perfect steamed-egg.